Category Archives: Memories of ‘Bouch’
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The time- March 1971, the place- Sudbury,Ontario and we are back at the National Finals.
It has been a successful 1970-71 season and we deserve to have another chance. Chuck Goddard has played superbly and we are all excited to have this opportunity.
During our regular season things happened to secure Chuck making it to these championships.
We learned Chuck was not easy to get along with and why would he be…we shoot at him all the time and in reality, 90% of the time, we probably did not know where the puck is ‘headed’…. but thank God… Chuck did.
We learned how good he was when compared to his peer goalies in the league…shots which we actually hit the goal with in practice..and never scored…went in against these other goalies- WOW!
We learned how stubborn he was when the three Bohunks, Fraughton,Murphy and myself, shot high hard ones in warm up practice only to see Chuck’s net go empty for the rest of the practice. Boucher would then come out of the dressing room ready to kill. These nights were lots of fun…’what do you mean a no puck practice…we have to do what?’.
The future affect – these nights usually guaranteed that in future years, Fraughton, would not receive enough votes to win an election!
We learned that if a goalie taped a white ‘x’ on his left goal pad, your eyes would pick it up and you would shoot at it 99.99% of the time.
We learned that practice was not for the shooters who, in their hearts , believed that they were really in ‘SCORO’ on TV…screw the goalie who happened to be the best we would ever play against…let’s try and make sure he DOES NOT make it to the National Final.
We learned how good a back up Chuck LeCain was and HE too was better than any goalie we played against all year!
Two fantastic goalies, one of whom always let us know where he stood and the other, the most competent back up who could have started with any other team in the country…. and who never complained about his lack of game time.
Today, when I hear of the second stringers complaining in the NHL, I reflect upon Chuck LeCain’s attitude about the team always coming first.
To the point- we arrive in Sudbury with both Chuck goalies and thanks to their own survival techniques,
in the best of shape.
First game against Sudury’s Laurentian University Voyageurs…a team we had beaten in Edmonton in 1969, 10-9….you can see why Goddard was needed…and the other Chuck was injured for this game.
First period , 2-0 Laurentian..and we stink…..we go into the dressing room…and as an assistant captain , I felt I should say something to spark us up.
After I finished my rant, I sit down beside Goddard and he says to me ‘what’s wrong? ’
‘Ah Chuckie, we’re down 2-0, they outplayed us big time and they hit the post three times! ‘(records show shots were 16-12 in our favour, but these were mostly from long range on dump ins).
Chuck stares at me and with the most ‘haven’t you learned anything about how good I am look’ says ‘I give ‘em the post.’
We learned how we could play like morons and he would be always be there, giving them the post because the ‘Puck stops here.’
We win 4-2!
In the fall of 1968, Bob asked 4 of the 1968-69 Huskies to do a 7 a.m. skating clinic at the Dartmouth Rink for the Dartmouth Minor Hockey Association.
We arrived at our freezing location at 6:45 and upon entering this venue, we noticed that it was empty. Not sure whether we had the correct day, we still proceeded to the warmth of a dressing room where we would put on our skates.
At 7:00, we left the dressing room and arrived on the ice, where in the space of 15 minutes, 150 +/- minor hockey players had shown up fully dressed for what they were about to experience. (the parents of the these aspiring pros, knew how cold it was to be and so the majority of them were waiting in their warm cars before exposing their kids to us and the frigid, steely, cold stares of Brian O’Byrne).
Now if you have done the math, 150 divided by 4 tells you, each of us had approx. 38 kids to instruct in ¼ of the ice.( It was not too far off in the future, this instructing ratio became 10 to 1.)
What we did not know, was that none of the kids wanted to be in Brian’s group, so 3 of us had 50+/- each!
Also and unbeknown to 3 of us, is that somewhere most of these kids, had been previously exposed to Brian, either in skating schools or by reputation.
Where this presented an unwieldy group for us 3, we quickly determined that our best approach would be to find one or two of these players, with whom their peer group could identify, have them demonstrate the drills and then have the entire ice surface all going in one direction doing the drills.
One such player, was a 12 year old named Jeff Leverman, who for his age, was one of the best skaters we had encountered.
We asked Jeff to demonstrate the drills and everything went along smoothly, or so we thought.
During the course of this first hour, many parents called us to the boards to thank us for our time and interest and especially for not letting their kids be directly under the direction of Brian.
The next day at practice, we asked Boucher about the attitude of this Dartmouth group, only to learn that many of these kids having been exposed to him, were having nightmares about Brian.
Needless to say, at that night’s Huskies practice, the three of us learned why these kids had nightmares. Boucher does not come on the ice , so Brian took it upon himself to run the practice and at every opportunity, punished the three of us with body checks, slashes and every other
penalty deserving infraction you have ever seen. (I might add that all the years of playing, I was never pummelled so severe as that night).
What came out of this day’s experience, was a lesson in ‘who’s the boss’ so when we crawled off the ice after practice,
and upon entering the dressing room, Brian was standing at the doorway, leaning on his stick and with his gold capped steely grin, announced to us 3 sophs that’s what it takes to survive being ‘in the presence of greatness’.
After showering, we hear Brian and Boucher in his side room laughing about the day’s events! That day was a survival test that we never fully appreciated until well into that year when it became apparent that this gauntlet test prepared us for nothing we would ever encounter!
Contrary to what you all might think, Brian was not talking about himself, but by his ‘in the presence of greatness’ comment he wanted us to realize how lucky we were to be in the hands of Boucher.
As I look back at this gift of an opportunity to have been coached by Bob, none of us at that time, had any idea how good he was as a player and his coaching record, of which we are all a part, speaks for itself.
Games Coached Wins Losses Ties %age
Bob Boucher 268 231 33 4 .861
Tom Watt 551 410 106 35 .794
Clare Drake 1030 697 296 37 .695
Never once, did I EVER hear Bob speak of his accomplishments as a player and all of us, who were fortunate enough to have been coached by him, were given a gift to last our lifetimes.
Every time we travelled to Newfoundland we would get storm-stayed and we were constantly getting grief about being over budget. So Spook and Bouch came up with the great idea that if they flew the team over on Saturday morning, we could play Memorial Saturday night and Sunday afternoon and we would only be in the motel one night. However, the best laid plans of mice and men never come to be, and like it or not once again we found ourselves storm-stayed in St. John’s after Sunday’s afternoon game. In fact the province had been hit with one of the biggest storms of the year and the outlook of getting out on Monday or even Tuesday was extremely bleak.
In fact we were extremely lucky to get to the rink on time for the Saturday night game. We also knew that by the time we got off the ice after the game, we would no chance to get to the beer store. So Richard Bishop was put in charge of getting everyone’s order as the team hustled to get their gear on. We were dressing in a tiny room on the second floor of the rink, and confusion raged as players looked for their equipment bag, their sticks, and the always in short supply ‘white tape’ used to hold up the shin pads.
It was obvious to the casual viewer that if Richard continued on the pace he was on, he would be lucky to get out of the dressing room before the beer store closed. Anyone who has ever been to Newfoundland knows that once you hit the island, there is an intrinsic feeling that whatever happens, a good time will be had by all.
However, the prospect of having no liquid refreshment back at the motel after the game would certainly put a damper on the evening, with Ray Monette’s bible study group being the only alternative to having a few cold ones and then heading downtown.
Someone had to step up and take control of the situation and one Richie Bayes aka ‘The Hawk’ dug into his pocket handed Richard a wad of bills and said, “Look if we don’t hurry this process up we will be left high and dry – Richard, here take this money and to make everything simpler buy everyone a case of beer” . What the Hawk had done was ordered 19 cases of beer for a one night stand. Since we had used taxis from the airport to the rink, Richard had to take a cab and then lug 19 cases of beer into the dressing room in front of a packed and hostile packed arena.
We partied as we normally would after a victory and partied as usual with some fellows staying in the rooms and having a card game and some beers while the more adventurous ventured downtown. The afternoon game again proved to be rather lopsided 13-0, but the bad news was the storm has intensified while we played and the airport was closed at least until Monday.So Spook’s and Bouch’s plan to save money backfired, for once again we were storm-stayed in good ole Newfoundland.
By Monday the weather had not improved and we were faced with staying yet another night. By this time Bouch was ready to be tied. When he came down for breakfast and saw all the boys hung-over and thirsty from another night of reveling he hit the roof. We were staying in the only quality hotel/motel St. John’s had and with it came their outrageous prices for meals and drinks. A large glass of orange juice was like $5.00 and the boys were order pitchers of them two at a time.
“Jungle. I want the names of every player who ordered orange juice because when we get back they are going to have to reimburse the school”. Someone had the nerve to shout out, “When will that be, I have a date next Saturday”. he didn’t even stay for breakfast, he just stormed out of the dining area and went back to his room.
It is now Tuesday night and we are still in St. John’s and the budget for the rest of the year had been depleted completely. Can you imagine the cost of 19 players eating three meals a day in a place where simple back and eggs were like $10.00. In the morning the boys were asking the chef for special meals for supper and planning what to wear for dinner that night. , and as time passed Bouch’s demeanor was not getting any better.
By Tuesday night all the boys were a little shack wacky and soon the shaving cream fights and the water balloons were in the hall, and Bouch was getting calls from the manager about our behaviour. He had warned us several times to keep the noise down and to act like men, but it fell on the deaf ears. Finally he came bursting out of his room and everybody just froze. “If I see one more person in the hall, they will be on their own to find their way back to SMU and they can forget about suiting up for the next game. He was beet red and screaming like a banshee.
The trouble was that when he ordered everyone back into the rooms, guys were spread out all over the place. No one was in their right room and no one dared to venture back into the hall to get to where they belonged.
We were on the second floor of the motel/hotel although if one looked out side it appeared we were on the ground floor because the snow was that high.
So the problem became how to get back to your own room without going into the hall. Solution, climb over the balconies until your reached your own room. If you were in room 217 and had to get to room 223, it meant you had to climb 3 balconies and you would be home. If you fell, chances are you wouldn’t get hurt because the snow would break your fall. Problem was that just about everyone was either wet with shaving cream or the bursting of a water balloon and therefore had no more than t-shirts and shorts on.
Yet as Mike Quinn would say, “Never say whoa in a race”. So using his quick mind and he athletic prowess he set off outside on the balconies to return to his room. He calculated he would have to make the jump three times to get to his correct room. Well on the surface that would be true and it would have been a great idea, except he was a little under the influence and his calculations were slightly off. The first and second jumps between balconies went without a hitch, but it was freezing out and the wind was blowing a gale. He had on a t-shirt and pair of socks and a pair of shorts. He has one more balcony to navigate and he did successfully.
Anxiously he knocked on the window for someone to let him in, but the room was dark and it was extremely quiet. So he scratched on the glass to get rid of the frost and looked in and found he was standing outside a broom closet. Confusion rained supreme, had he gone too far and had missed his room or he hadn’t gone far enough, and do they count broom closets when they number the rooms. When people are extremely cold you often see them given alcohol to help them warm up, but in reality alcohol thins the blood and makes the cold feel even more intense.
What mistake had he made? Had he gone too far or not far enough. If he was wrong and went one more balcony he could end up on Bouch’s balcony which would have been a huge mistake. So he retraced his steps and his leaps and ended up back where he started except now he was on the verge of hypothermia.
We finally left Newfoundland on Wednesday with a game in our barn scheduled for that night. Needless to say it was one of the quietest dressing rooms and one of the quietest victories we ever played. Our stick budget was shot, we had spent nearly $10,000 in meals, and rooms and flights and we had beaten Memorial 14-1 and 13-0, our next to last games before the playoffs. And people have the nerve to ask me why I wanted to pick up dirty towels and jock straps – if they only knew.
John “Jungle” Harrington
A winter’s night 1998, 8:00 pm. Bridgewater Memorial Arena. A Midget team is practicing their power play under the direction of Bob Boucher. The team’s coaches stand by and take mental notes.
I had called ‘Bouch’ and asked him for this favour. It was a bitter cold night in a bitter cold rink. It was a Midget team. He was 60 and still working 9-5. The driving time from his house to the Bridgewater Arena is about 1½ hours each way. The next day was a work day.